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Baby-sitters Club: The Next Generation Super Special #1: What Happens in Sea City...

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Dear Dawn,

Awesome vacation. Seeing new sides of Sea City. Did you know there’s a vast underground network of offices beneath Fred’s Putt-Putt? Also, Fred is actually a real guy, and he’s kind of a dick. Hey, you know when you got arrested for that demonstration outside the power plant? Is that on your permanent record now? Just curious.

Love, Jeff

There were eight dead flies in the fluorescent lights. I knew because I spent the whole time they were questioning Byron staring at the ceiling tiles, just trying to keep it together. The security guard was sitting at the desk a few feet away. She was reading, but really she was watching to make sure I didn’t flee, or crash the interrogation, or start turning over tables, like I wanted to.

It’s crazy how quickly a night can turn around. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. First, I was going to have sex--well, anal, which, for whatever reason, counts as official sex--for the first time. I was equal parts excited and fucking terrified. Next, Byron didn’t want to. I was equal parts relieved and disappointed. Next, I was cuddling with him, and I felt one hundred percent warm and safe and wonderful. Next, we were being dragged out by the security guards, and I felt confused and frightened. Now we were trapped like rats down here in this stale-coffee-smelling office, and I felt angry and hot and panicky and vengeful and just about ready to set the whole thing in flames.

Byron walked out of the inner office, the interrogation room, followed by Mr. MacMillan (Fred). Byron looked shaken. I jumped to my feet and took a step toward him. Mr. MacMillan shot out his arm, pushing me back. I shook him off, ready to fight, but Byron just gave me a weary look, and I stood down. Byron took a seat at the end of the line of plastic chairs, two away from mine.

“Well, young man? Are you ready to talk?” Mr. MacMillan asked.

He’d tried to interrogate me first, but I wouldn’t say anything. I crossed my arms and gave him a hard, cold look. I knew my rights.

“You know you can’t leave until I have a parents’ contact information. I can’t release you except into the custody of a parent.”

Yeah, right. Even if that were true, good luck to him waiting for my mom to drive up from Stoneybrook or Dad to fly from Palo City.

“I don’t think you realize the severity of your situation,” said Mr. MacMillan. “You were caught trespassing on private property. That’s a serious offense in itself, but when you add public lewdness on top of that...”

“It can’t be public and private at the same time,” I snapped.

“Oh, so you can talk!”

I scowled and lapsed back into silence.

Fred shook his head. “So much anger. When I think about today’s youth. Tsk, tsk. How must your mother feel? Children shouting at their elders, engaging in homosexuality and probably drugs. You’re going to Hell, you know.”

“I’ll see you there!” I shouted.

“Jeff,” said Byron softly.

“Who are you to tell us who’s going to Hell and who isn’t? Some kind of priest? You’re the mini-golf guy. Excuse me if I’m not shaking in my boots,” I went on. “Jesus. I regret giving you my money, even if it was only so I could spend time with my boyfriend, who I love, something you’ll never experience because you’re so full of hate!”

“I don’t need to listen to this,” said Fred. “I assume you can take care of this from here on out, Wanda. Call this number.” I watched, wide-eyed, as Fred handed a piece of paper to the security guard. Shit. Oh, shit. Of course Byron had snapped. I looked over at him. He was staring ahead, worried.

As soon as Fred had bustled out and Wanda picked up the phone, I moved over to the chair next to Byron. He reached over on the armrest grabbed my hand. I squeezed his hand tight. “It’s going to be okay,” I promised.

“Yes, hello, Mrs. Pike. I’m so sorry to be calling so late,” said Wanda pleasantly into the phone. “My name is Wanda Carver, and I’m a night security guard for the Sea City Commercial Neighborhood Association. I’m sorry to have to inform you that your son was caught trespassing tonight...”

Byron was white as a ghost.

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered, stroking his knuckles with my thumb. Wanda, doing paperwork across the room, didn’t seem too interested in us, but it still seemed like a good idea to keep our voices low. “This was all my fault.”

“No, it’s not,” he murmured back. “It was both of ours.”

“I was the one who wanted to... I mean, without me, you wouldn’t have...”

“Without you, I wouldn’t have a lot of things I’m glad I did.”

He looked at me from under his long lashes and half-smiled, and I felt all gooshy inside again.

“I’m sorry I stopped it,” he said. “It’s not because... I mean, you’re...”

I nodded. Even with Wanda seemingly paying no attention to us, it didn’t seem safe to finish our sentences. I knew what he meant anyway. Stopping the sex didn’t mean he didn’t like me. “You were right.”

“They’d have found us.”

We sat there for a moment, thinking about that. It was bad enough they’d caught us hugging and kissing in the dark. Byron had managed to kick the condoms into a corner and I don’t think they found them. Even so, we were in maximum trouble, with Fred telling us we were going to Hell and God knows what the Pikes were going to do to us. Imagine if we’d actually been fucking. Christ.

Even without that, though, if we’d gone through with it, it would have been cold and strange, in that stupid mildewy windmill on a chilly night. I knew it didn’t feel right when I was standing there, biting down on my lip and waiting to be penetrated. Expecting pain. It was like a visit to an incredibly shady doctor. It wasn’t like the kissing or the jerking or the sucking, stuff I did because I wanted to in the moment and because it was hot and spontaneous and felt like the natural, right thing to do. I just wanted to do anal because it was the next thing on the list. That’s no way to live your life.

And yet if I didn’t do this with him, get this life milestone out of the way now, who would I do it with? I hoped it wouldn’t be just some dude, whoever I happened to be chilling with when I got the urge. I didn’t want a Chip or a Pablo to go down in my personal history as my virginity-taker. And I couldn’t imagine another Byron. This might not have been the right time, but Byron was the right guy. Damn it. Why couldn’t they match up?

I didn’t know how to express any of that, any of that, especially now, under the fluorescent lights and drop ceiling, with Wanda a few feet away.

I just said, “You were right about all of it. I want it to be nice, too. Something to remember.” He smiled, nodding. “I just wanted, you know, before we have to split up...”

“Something special,” he suggested.

“Something like that,” I muttered.



“I want to tell you... well, in case I don’t get another chance... I want you to know...”

“Spit it out,” I said anxiously.

He glanced down shyly at our joined hands. “I love you, too.”

My breath caught in my throat. He loved me? Too?

“Earlier you said, ‘my boyfriend, who I love,’” he explained. “I don’t know if you remember. Well, I mean, it was just something you said without thinking, trying to prove a point. You don’t have to say it back like--”

“I love you,” I interrupted him. I was grinning like a fool, sitting there in the basement of Fred’s Putt-Putt with Hurricane Parents bearing down on us. “I love you, Byron Pike. You’re my first love.”

“You’re my first love,” he echoed, smiling back and blushing, looking just as wildly pleased and content and happy and adoring as I felt.

The door flew open. There stood... Mallory Pike, in a French maid costume.

I stared at her, then at Byron. My jaw was scraping the floor.

“I thought it would be better,” Byron said apologetically.

I laughed and hugged him.